I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
March 16, 2012 - 10:24 a.m.
School is becoming more and for frustrating. Too many of the students have given up and most of them never started trying. Even the good students are getting the glazed look in their eyes. One good thing, after class I regaled some of the students with stories of weird things I've done with Carey including busking in Washington Square Park and dressing as Perry the Platypus and Candace on in Toronto this year. What brought it on was that two of the students, a man and a woman, came to class in grass skirts. There was a luau at school that I didn't know about and they came over to tell me that I should have been there.
Maybe spring break will help recharge the class's batteries. Yes spring break. It took me by surprise too. It's next week. Oddly enough I have only one thing on my calendar for next week, a knick game with Alan on Tuesday. Can you believe I don't have one concert in town? I'm sure something will come up. I decided that I wanted to go out of town and visit somebody. I asked LORi and I'm going down on Thursday. The timing is perfect. I'm actually a volunteer at the Lansdowne Folk Club and guess who is performing there then? We're About 9. I'll either surprise them or find that at least one of them reads Wise Madness.
I had two pleasant encounters with immigrants yesterday. I've told you about my pretzel guy in front of Carnegie Hall. For a buck you'll get the best street pretzel in the City. Most guys charge $2 or $3. I think part of the reason he's better is that because he's so cheap he sells his faster so they are fresher. Whenever I see him he's reading. I have never seen any other street vender reading at all. This has always intrigued me as well as the fact that I can never figure out what language the book is in or guess his accent. I suspected Urdu but didn't know. Yesterday I finally got a better look at the printing and knew that I was on the right track, the alphabet was from South Asia. I decided to just ask him. It's Bengali! I should have perhaps guessed that he was Indian not Pakistani because his cart isn't Halel. I'm always afraid that I'll make a foreigner uncomfortable if I ask where they are from. There's so much prejudice. But this is New York, City of immigrants and things are a bit more open here. I pick and choose my times and I find that usually it ends up being a good experience for both of us when I ask. I was right this time too. Now we have a bonding thing.
On the way home from school stopped at Aldi's for a few things. I take the bus home from there so it's a free transfer and I only pay one fare to get home even though I stop along the way. On the bus the gentleman asked me, "What does beverage mean?" He saw a sign and was trying to improve his vocabulary. I asked him where he was from and he said, Iran. I then noticed that he was wearing a yarmulke that made it easier to talk to him as then I don't count as other, we're both Jews. We had a really nice conversation on language and teaching. I taught him the subtleties of "beverage." It wasn't natural to him to use the same word for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as hot or cold. He kept praising the way that I taught. I am patient and enjoy doing it. Then we got to talking about the Seder and Jewish stuff and his family and personal history. The one part that made me uncomfortable was when he said that part of what made me a good teacher was that I was Jewish and said how Jews are nicer than other people. I didn't try and argue because of the language difficulty and the fact that in Iran he had to face plenty of anti-Semitism.
Yesterday's dinner came out great, bacon-potato-garlic soup and a burger on garlic-cheese ciabatta bread. Yes that's a lot of garlic. I have to buy more today. I sometimes think the best part of making the soups is that it involved sautéing garlic. That's a sensual pleasure. I think you could get people to pay to sauté garlic. The smell is so good. I wonder if it will make your breath bad if you just breathe garlic instead of eating it. I know that rubbing garlic on the bottom of your feet will. You absorb it through your skin.
I had another bad night's sleep last night but for less reason than most. I went to bed late then woke up around 3 and had to go to the bathroom. Then I got hungry and had a snack. Then I went on the computer. Then I saw that Lena was still up and gave her a call. So now I'm going to be tired all day. I see a lot of coffee in my future. But it's good that I talked to Lena. I need to talk to people, not just spend time with them while I'm doing things. Yesterday I had two phone conversations, LORi and Lena. That's a good thing. As I noticed years ago all my friends' names begin with "L," LORi, Lena, Leah, Lori not LORi, Lawrence, and of course LCarey. Yes I'm dredging up ten year old conversations but that reminded me of a weird idiot story.
I was thinking back to a bad time I spent with a group of friends in the midst of times. I always thought of it as the time when I couldn't engage m friends. I started writing about it and realized that the group of friends were not actually my friends. They were with only two exception friends of friends. Not only that they were the friends of friends that I could never understand how they could be in the same social circles as me. There was one I disliked and everyone else was pretty much a cipher. Now that doesn't mean that they were in some inherent ways devoid of virtues but that there was nothing I could get a handle on. Their interests and instincts were simply totally different than mine. So the question is how did I not notice that at the time? Why did I think I was with friends. These weren't even the friends of friends that I liked and had potential for more. These were the people I had tried to be friends with and couldn't find anything to hold my interest.
I'm always fascinated when I delude myself. It seems impossible that you don't know what's going on in your own mind but the truth is that it's one of the hardest places to see things clearly.
Unscrambling the Egg - March 15, 2017
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